The communication challenges faced in adopting a palliative care approach in advanced dementia

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This paper discusses one aspect from the findings of an Australian study aimed at understanding the needs of people with advanced dementia. Specifically, this paper focuses on the communication issues that might potentially inhibit the implementation of a palliative care approach for a person with advanced dementia in a residential aged care facility (RACF). Six focus groups consisting of 34 participants and 24 semistructured interviews were conducted. Participants were drawn from palliative care specialty staff, palliative care volunteers, designated aged or dementia specialist staff from an area health service, general practitioners, RACF staff and family carers. The findings show communication issues identified by the participants were a significant factor impacting on their capacity to adopt a palliative care approach in caring for people with advanced dementia. The findings support the need for education, skill development and networking to occur among the key providers of care in RACFs to ensure the provision of ‘best practice’ palliative care to residents with advanced dementia and their families.

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